December 04, 2023 Business Resources

7 Creative Ways to Use Up Your Health Care Dollars

December, is that you already? If you’re anything like me, you may be thinking – how did we get here so fast? You may also be looking at your flexible spending account (FSA) balance and thinking – “wow, there’s still a lot left in there.”

While FSAs are valuable, tax-saving tools that can be used to pay for medical and health-related expenses, if the money you have put into the account is not used by December 31, you may lose it. Even if your FSA is set up to allow a carryover or an extended grace period (log in and check your FSA plan specifics to find out), now’s the time to take a look at your balance, figure out how to use it, and plan for the year ahead.

Over the years, the IRS has added many items to the list of qualified expenses – some you may not even know about. So, if you need some creative ideas for how to spend your FSA money, we can help you get started. Please remember: The suggestions below are commonly accepted as qualified expenses for general purpose FSAs. If you have a limited purpose FSA, your list of eligible expenses may be more restricted. Check your FSA plan specifics for exclusions and coverage.

Over-the-counter medical products*

You can purchase many over-the-counter medical products without a prescription from a physician, including pain relievers, cold medicine, bandages and more. Additionally, menstrual care and feminine hygiene products, such as tampons, pads, and cups, are eligible FSA expenses.

*You are still required to substantiate (provide proof for) purchases made using FSA funds. Be sure to keep all receipts for substantiation and reimbursement purposes.

Cold, flu, COVID-19, and RSV – oh my!

Hopefully you’ve gotten your flu shot by now, but it’s always best to be prepared for it and a slew of other respiratory illnesses as we head into a long stretch of winter. You can purchase humidifiers, thermometers, and disposable masks to prevent or treat illnesses for yourself and your family.


Though not for everyone, if you’ve been considering trying acupuncture, why not do so with the FSA funds you have to use up? Acupuncture is believed to help headaches, low back pain, neck pain, and more. It can also relieve discomfort associated with chemotherapy, menstrual cramps, and labor pain.

Oh, baby!

If you’re thinking about having a child – or if you’ve recently given birth – there are a host of items you can purchase or stock up on to use up your FSA dollars, including:

  • Ovulation monitors
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Breastfeeding classes
  • Breast pumps (one is covered under your health plan, but you can use your FSA money to purchase a second to keep at the office. I highly recommend this – dragging a pump back and forth is a pain!)
  • Lactation supplies (bottles and bottle nipples, cleaning wipes, breast milk storage bags, etc.)
  • Lactation consultant services

Getting around

Did you know that you can reimburse yourself for the cost of driving yourself or a dependent to and from eligible medical, dental, and vision appointments? This also applies to bus, train, taxi, and parking expenses for eligible care. Save those receipts!

Healthy smiles

If your community water source contains low or no fluoride, getting a fluoridation treatment for yourself or your dependents could help reduce tooth decay by as much as 25 percent. For those of you out there who grind your teeth, consider asking your dentist about an occlusal guard to prevent doing so while you sleep – also a covered expense.

Start your New Year’s resolution early.

There’s no time like the present to kick a super unhealthy habit. Smoking cessation programs are eligible for reimbursement under your FSA.

Start Planning for Next Year

There’s no time like the present to kick a super unhealthy habit. Smoking cessation programs are eligible for reimbursement under your FSA.

For even more ways to spend down those FSA dollars, check out the FSA store for a quick and easy way to purchase items you and your family need.

Bonus tips! If your health plan includes Life Points®, you’ll also want to log in to cash those out before the end of the year. Life Points is a calendar year program and points reset on January 1, regardless of when your medical benefits renew. CDPHP encourages you to use your points toward the purchase of health and wellness-related items.

This same tip goes for our awesome fitness and weight management reimbursements. Be sure to grab your receipts and submit them to get that money back in your pocket this holiday season. 

Start thinking about next year

If you have a large amount of FSA money that you’re trying to spend as the year ends, it doesn’t mean an FSA isn’t right for you. It simply means you may need to take a closer look at your health expense estimates for the year. Consider refining your annual contribution based on purchases you made throughout the year and any expenses you know are coming up next year.

FSAs are an important part of your overall health plan package – and knowing how to use the funds you contribute is equally important. We hope these practical (and healthy!) tips will allow you to take advantage of your FSA money before the year ends.

Natalia Burkart
About the Author

Natalia joined CDPHP in 2015 as a communications writer/editor and currently serves as director, communications strategy. Born and raised in the Capital Region, Natalia earned a BS in marketing and management from Siena College and an MBA from Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University). A self-professed news junkie and lover of iced coffee, Natalia currently resides in North Greenbush with her husband and two kids.

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